Pentagon mired in 'fake propaganda video' scandal
An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that the Bell Pottinger agency received $540 million from the US Department of Defence (DoD). The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that the DoD signed five contracts from May 2007 to December 2011. Martin Wells- a former video editor apparently hired by the PR firm and assigned to Baghdad said he worked on making 'fake' propaganda videos.
Bell Pottinger and its controversial antics
Bell Pottinger in the past too has been employed for controversial propaganda. It spun Margaret Thatcher's image and has served controversial clients such as the the Saudi government and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's foundation.
Reason behind the propaganda videos
The Bell Pottinger operation was carried out shortly after the Iraqi invasion by the US. It involved the promotion of "democratic elections" for the government. The firm also created television ads that depicted Al-Qaeda in a negative light and looked like ads on the "Arabic TV." The ads were created on Real Player that needs internet hence whenever played they could be intercepted.
Embedded CDs used to track terrorists
Bell Pottinger employee Martin Wells revealed that the US military dropped the doctored CDs into the houses of people during raids. The CDs contained a code which was embedded in them. Whenever the CDs were played they gave away the location of whoever was playing them and hence helped the US military to keep a check on the terrorists.
Pentagon says the content was 'truthful'
While the Pentagon confirmed the reports that it had hired the PR firm under the Information Operations Task Force (IOTF), they stated that the content created was "truthful". The US law prevents regional firms from using "propaganda on its population", hence an outside firm was used to create the content. Pentagon further said that the firm worked on Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF).